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Pool World Mourns Loss of Helena Thornfeldt

Helena Thornfeldt (File photo courtesy of Roberta Case)

The pool world is in mourning over the loss this week of Helena Thornfeldt. Helena hailed from Borlange Sweden, but had been living in Villa Rica, Georgia for the last few years. 
 
Helena, known as The Sledgehammer for her “sledgehammer break”, was a WPBA US Open winner, as well as runner-up at the 1996 Women’s World 9-Ball Championship. She was a regular competitor on the WPBA tour during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. 
 
She was inducted into the WPBA Hall of Fame in 2017 and had just recently finished in 9th place at the 2019 WPBA Masters. 
 
Helena had recently opened a pizza restaurant in Villa Rica. No additional details are available regarding her death. Helena was 52 years of age. 

Bryant comes from the loss side to defend WPBA Blue Emu title at Borderline Billiards in TN

Crowning achievements for (l to r) Kyoko Sone & Brittany Bryant with Janet Atwell

It began on Thursday, May 30 with a preliminary tournament made up of 30 lower-ranked players from the Women’s Professional Billiards Association (WPBA) and ended on Sunday night, June 2 with the crowning of defending champion Brittany Bryant, who had to come from the loss side (five matches) to meet Kyoko Sone in the finals of the WPBA’s Signature Tour Stop, the Blue-Emu Southern Open. The $10,000-added event drew a total of 62 entrants, including Janet Atwell to her venue, Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.

The event was not exactly a proverbial ‘walk in the park’ for the WPBA’s #4-ranked player. Bryant won the event, having won less than 60% of the games she played in it (70-49; 58.8%). The seven opponents she faced in races-to-8 chalked up an average of five racks against her. She got by Kelly Cavanaugh, Jessica Barnes and Mary Rakin by an aggregate score of 24-7, but against her other four race-to-8 opponents (LoreeJon Hasson, Allison Fisher, Melissa Little & Jennifer Baretta) she chalked up an aggregate of 32-26, or 55%. Not surprising necessarily, given the upgrade in the competition over those four matches. And then, of course, there was the third-round, 4-8 loss to Gail Eaton, which really did a job on the ‘numbers.’ Without that loss, Bryant would have finished with an overall game-winning average of just over 60% (62.8), rather than less.

“I go to every event to win it,” said Bryant, “but I didn’t go with any expectations this year. “There were actually a few more players who were higher up (in rankings) than there were last year when I won it.”

The ‘First Stage’ double elimination bracket yielded 16 players who advanced to the Final Stage; eight from the winners’ side and eight from the loss side of that bracket. Among those who emerged from that bracket was runner-up Kyoko Sone, who lost her opening round match, double hill to Mary Rakin. Rakin advanced to defeat Kelly Isaac 7-5 and become one of the eight winners’ side competitors to advance to the Final Stage. Sone moved to the loss side, where she defeated Toni Esteves and Janet Ritcey, both 7-2, to become one of the eight loss-side competitors to advance to the final stage.

The other winners’ side competitors to advance to the Final Stage were Jennifer Berzinski, Jessica Human, Hiroko Makiyama, Ashley Burrows, Stephanie Mitchell, Kia Sidbury and Billie Billings. The other loss-side competitors to advance were Autumn Duncan, Kelly Isaac, Susan Wilbur, Julie Cooper, Angela Janic, Stephanie Goens, and Catherine Tschumper.

Moving into the Final Stage, beginning on Friday, May 31, the 16 arrivals from the preliminary bracket faced 16 players more or less in the middle of the WPBA rankings (approximately #17-#32). The winners in this opening round of Final Stage play advanced to meet the WPBA’s top 16 players, who had been awarded opening round byes.

Of the WPBA’s top 16 players who waited until Friday evening to begin competing, only three failed to advance on the winners’ side past their opening match; Jessica Barnes (WPBA-ranked #16) was defeated 8-2 by Kyoko Sone, Gerda Gregerson (#8) lost to Mary Rakin 8-6 and Emily Duddy (#10) joined them on the loss side following an 8-3 defeat at the hands of Naomi Williams. Among the more notable matches in this round of play, and the only one to go double hill was the battle between Allison Fisher and Russian teenager Kristina Tkach, who, a week earlier, had been the only female to compete in the Open/Pro event of the 9th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial in New York City (she finished in the tie for 5th place). She was defeated by Fisher here and went on to win two loss-side matches before being eliminated by Line Kjorsvik.

A final round on Friday night brought the field down to the winners’ side quarterfinals. Kyoko Sone had sent Line Kjorsvik to the loss side and on Saturday night, faced Mary Rakin, who, after her victory over Gregerson, had sent hostess and WPBA-ranked #9 Janet Atwell over. Brittany Bryant, who’d defeated Loree Jon Hasson was to meet up with Gail Eaton, who’d gotten by Melissa Little. Fisher followed up her win over Tkach with a victory over Jia Li and on Saturday night, faced Naomi Williams, who had just survived a double hill battle against Helena Thornfeldt.  The last of the winners’ side quarterfinals pitted Jennifer Baretta against Monica Webb.

These matches elicited the winners’ side semifinals, which began immediately afterwards. Sone, who’d downed Rakin 8-5 met Eaton, who’d sent Bryant to the loss side 8-4, as Fisher, who’d defeated Williams 8-3 met Baretta, who’d gotten by Webb 8-5.

“I have to give Gail so much credit,” said Bryant of her only loss in the tournament. “I have never seen her play that well. I was down 7-1, took a break, composed myself and got it to 7-4.”

“I wasn’t disappointed,” she added. “I didn’t play poorly and Gail took control when she needed to.”

Sone advanced to the hot seat match 8-3 over Eaton. Fisher and Baretta, almost predictably, fought to double hill before Baretta prevailed to join Sone in the hot seat match. Sone downed Baretta 8-4 to claim the hot seat and waited on what turned out to be Bryant’s fateful return.

Meanwhile, back at the loss-side ranch, Bryant and Melissa Little were laying in wait for Fisher and Eaton, respectively. Bryant had defeated Jessica Barnes 8-2 and Mary Rakin 8-3 to draw Fisher. Little had won four loss-side matches, including a double hill win over Naomi Williams and an 8-4 victory over Kjorsvik to draw Eaton. Little made it five in a row with an 8-5 win over Eaton and advanced to the quarterfinals. Bryant joined her after surviving a double hill fight against Fisher.

“I expected to go back and forth with Allison,” she said. “It was actually the first time I had ever beaten her. I ended up breaking and running at double hill to win it.”

Bryant followed her double hill win over Fisher with a double hill win over Little in the quarterfinals and for the second time, she finished with a break and run. In the semifinals, Jennifer Baretta came within a game of giving Bryant a third straight, double hill challenge, but Bryant edged out in front at the end to win it 8-6.

“I was up 6-2 in that match and she came back (to almost tie it),” Bryant said. “And then, there was a big game swinger, when she could have tied it at 6-6, but I won to go up 7-5. She won a game and I won the next game to win the match.”

The finals between defending champion Bryant and Sone came within a game of going double hill, as well, but for the second time in a row, Bryant edged out in front at the end to win it 10-8 and claim the 2019 Blu-Emu Southern Open.

“We didn’t make a lot of mistakes,” said Bryant of the final match. “She broke and ran the opening game and we had a few safety battles. I was up 6-2 and she started to make a comeback.”

As with the semifinal match against Baretta, Sone had the opportunity to tie things up at 6-6.

“She missed a key 8-ball to tie it up (at 6-6),” she said, “so it was 7-5 and I won the next three.”

WPBA representatives thanked Janet Atwell and her Borderline Billiards staff for hosting the event, as well as sponsors Simonis Cloth, Aramith, Diamond Billiard Products and Outsville.com. The next WPBA event, scheduled for August 8-11, will be a $10,000-added Signature Event, to be held in Fairfield, IL. Further details will be available soon. Bryant said that she plans to be in attendance.

China’s Siming Chen gets by Britain’s Kelly Fisher twice to win 2019 WPBA Masters

Kelly Fisher and Siming Chen (Photo courtesy of WPBA)

In what proved to be her best recorded earnings year, to date (2017), China’s 24-year-old Siming Chen won five major events between March and November, opening with a win at the Amway Cup in Chinese Tapei, followed by victories in the China Open (June), the Dynamic Klagenfurt (part of the Euro Tour in Austria; Oct.)  and a week apart in November, the Women’s World 9-Ball Championships (Nov. 8-11) and the All-Japan Women’s Championship (Nov. 16-26).
 
In the Women’s World 9-Ball Championships that year, there was only one competitor among the top eight finishers who was not from China or Chinese Taipei. That lone competitor, who finished in the four-way tie for 5th place was Britain’s Kelly Fisher. Five months earlier, Fisher had finished in the four-way tie for 5th place at the China Open, sharing the spot with Chihiro Kawahara (Japan), Rubilen Amit (Philippines) and Xiao-Ting Pan (China).
 
And this is just that one year, her best recorded earnings year, to date. Chen’s been winning money on the international pool scene since 2009, when she was 16. All this, by way of an introduction to who she is – the #1-ranked female pool player in the world right now – and why, to no one’s surprise, she went undefeated through a field of 64 entrants to win the 2019 WPBA Masters, held from February 27-March 3 at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, MI. Also to no one’s surprise, Kelly Fisher recovered from an early round loss to Chen and fought back though nine matches on the loss side to face her a second time in the finals.
 
It’s not unusual for fans of the billiard sports to be more keenly attuned to players from their own countries and/or players who compete regularly in their country. We here in the US of A are aware of many female competitors who are not native to this country, but are well-known by virtue of their presence competing (and in some cases, living) here. Allison Fisher (Britain), Karen Corr (Ireland), Kelly Fisher (England), Ga Young Kim (South Korea), and Jasmin Ouschan (Austria), as just a few examples of those who competed at this year’s WPBA Masters. The home-grown female talent on hand was larger and made its presence known, just not for as long, as the visiting competitors flexed their considerable muscle and advanced toward the finals.
 
Jennifer Baretta made it to a winners’ side semifinal (right after defeating Janet Atwell), and made it to the quarterfinals before giving way to Kelly Fisher. Gerda (Hoffstater) Gregerson, a member of the WPBA Hall of Fame, originally from Austria, later from Sweden and currently residing in Charlotte, NC made it to a winners’ side quarterfinal against Siming Chen.
 
Siming Chen’s trip started with the proverbial bang, as she shut out Indiana’s Tonya Wiser and then ran right into Kelly Fisher for the first, though not the last time. Chen gave up only a single rack to Fisher in their first meeting and then defeated Billie Billing 9-1 to arrive at her winners’ side quarterfinal match against Gregerson. A 9-3 victory over Gregerson gave Chen a 36-5 game winning record moving into her winners’ side semifinal match against Jennifer Baretta.
 
Chinese Tapei’s Tzu Chien Wei, in the meantime, who’d cashed in three of the four events won by Siming Chen back in 2017, worked her way through a slightly more resistant field of competitors, downing Caroline Pao 9-2 in her opening match, and Jessica Barnes 9-3 in her second. She then survived a double hill battle against 20-year-old Russian Kristina Tkach to sport a 27-13 game record, going into her winners’ side semifinal match against Allison Fisher.
 
Chen advanced to the hot seat match with a 9-2 win over Baretta, as Wei defeated Fisher 9-5 to join her. Chen claimed the hot seat 9-7 over Wei and waited for what turned out to be the return of Kelly Fisher.
 
Fisher, over on the loss side, was working on a nine-match winning streak that would carry her all the way back to a finals rematch against Chen. She started that trip with three victories in which she gave up only a single rack each to Ewa Mataya Laurance, Caroline Pao and Kaylin Wykoff. Jenna Bishoff put up a bit of a fight in the following round, chalking up more racks against Fisher (5) than her first three loss-side opponents combined. Fisher returned to form with a 9-1 victory over Janet Atwell and then gave up three to Kristina Tkach. This put Kelly Fisher into a match against Allison Fisher, fresh from the winners’ side semifinal.
 
Jennifer Baretta drew Jasmin Ouschan, who’d been defeated by Allison Fisher 9-7 in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Helena Thornfeldt 9-4 and Line Kjorsvik 9-7 to face Baretta.
 
Everybody got caught up in a double hill fight for advancement to the quarterfinals. Baretta eventually defeated Ouschan, and Fisher eliminated Fisher (that’s Kelly over Allison). Kelly Fisher ended Jennifer Baretta’s run 9-5 in those  quarterfinals and then got wrapped up in another double hill fight, which she won, against Tzu Chie Wen in the semifinals.
 
As she’d describe it later from an airport in Detroit, awaiting a flight to Newark, and eventually, home to England, three matches in a row on that last Sunday just about did Kelly Fisher in, and “the wheels sort of came off.” Siming Chen completed her undefeated run at the 2019 WPBA Masters with an 11-2 victory over Kelly in the finals.
 
WPBA representatives thanked the Soaring Eagle Resort & Casino for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Outsville AccuRack, Aramith, PoolActionTV, Simonis Cloth and Diamond Billiard Products.

Bryant goes undefeated to take WPBA title at Janet Atwell’s Borderline Billiards

Brittany Bryant, Janet Atwell and Mary Rakin (Photo courtesy of Barbara Lee)

It’s hard to know just how exactly the proverbial ‘luck of the draw’ can impact a tournament field. Is there ever an easy path through a strong field? Does early ‘luck of the draw’ influence a player’s ability to face increasingly difficult competition? With ‘no’ as the answer to the ‘easy path’ question, one would think that getting a few relatively ‘easy’ matches under your belt before facing any heavy hitters would have to be of benefit. On the weekend of October 18-21, Canada’s Brittany Bryant went undefeated through a field of strong opponents to win the WPBA BLU-EMU Southern Open Signature Tour Stop.
 
With a Fargo Rate of 663, Bryant opened the tournament with matches against opponents whose ratings were in the 500 range, slowly graduating to matches against higher ranked opponents, and then, in the finals, squaring off against Mary Rakin with exactly the same rating of 663. The $10,000-added event drew 64 entrants to Janet Atwell’s Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.
 
That said, it didn’t take Bryant long to get into the thick of things. Following victories over Autumn Duncan (Fargo Rating 585) 7-2 and Bonnie Arnold (553) 7-3, Bryant faced the Texas Tornado, Vivian Villarreal, sporting a higher Fargo rate of 685 (the top Fargo-rated female in the US). They locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Bryant against Jia Li (654) and a second double hill fight, which Bryant won, advancing to a winners’ side semifinal match against Karen Corr (722; as an Irish competitor, Corr is not on the US Top 10 list, and doesn’t appear among the top 10 World List, dominated by seven Chinese women, whose ratings range from 782 to 744).
 
Meanwhile, Line Kjorsvik (675) was running her own gauntlet of top-notch talent. She defeated Ji-Hyun Park, Jeannette Lee, Ashley Rice and Helena Thornfeldt to draw (out of the frying pan into the fire, so to speak) Allison Fisher (724). Fisher had sent Bryant’s eventual finals opponent, Mary Rakin, to the loss side in the second round.
 
Bryant downed Corr 7-3, and in the hot seat match, faced Kjorsvik, who’d survived a somewhat predictable double hill match against Fisher. Bryant claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Kjorsvik and waited for Rakin to complete her nine-match, loss-side winning streak that would bring her into the final match.
 
Six matches had put Bryant in the hot seat, and while they included those back-to-back wins over Villareal, Li, Corr and Kjorsvik, the run paled (somewhat) in the face of what Rakin accomplished to meet her in the finals. Wins over Kaylin Wykoff and Maureen Seto put Rakin into the first money round (17th-24th) against Gerda (Hofstatter) Gregerson. A subsequent win over Dawn Hopkins led to five straight wins over Thornfeldt, Jennifer Baretta, Corr, Fisher and Kjorsvik.
 
She defeated Thornfeldt 7-4 and Baretta 7-3 to pick up Corr, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. Fisher drew Jia Li, who’d defeated LoreeJon Hasson 7-5 and Melissa Little 7-4 to reach her.
 
Rakin defeated Corr 7-5 and in the quarterfinals, faced Fisher, who’d eliminated Li 7-2. Rakin and Fisher locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Rakin to the semifinals against Kjorsvik. A second straight double hill fight, won by Rakin, gave Rakin her shot at Bryant in the finals.
 
The finals, according to FargoRate, was a 50/50 proposition. Rakin had the intangible of momentum and recent wins over higher ranked competitors going for her, though two straight double hill wins over quality opponents might have taken a little out of her. Bryant had the wait, which can sometimes work for you with a little rest or against you, in terms of going a little cold at the table. By the same token, her own list of recently defeated quality opponents suggested that either way, it was going to be a good match between two quality opponents who had more than earned their way into the finals. Bryant won it 7-4 to claim the event title.

“Duchess of Doom” goes undefeated to win 3rd Annual NAPT Summer 10-Ball Classic

Mary Rakin, Molly Bontrager, Allison Fisher and Helena Thornfeldt (Photo – Tony Fox)

 

Allison Fisher went undefeated through a field of 52 entrants to win the 3rd Annual North American Pool Tour’s Summer 10-Ball Classic on the long weekend of August 16-19. And for the second year in a row, the winner of this tournament had to go through relative newcomer, Molly Bontrager. Bontrager battled for the hot seat against Karen Corr last year, then, was defeated in the semifinals by Eleanor Callado. This year, she finished as runner-up to Fisher, whom she faced twice, in the hot seat and finals. The 3rd Annual $5,000-added event drew its 52 entrants to Shooter’s Sports Bar & Billiards in Grayslake, IL.
 
Though the annual event’s defending champion, Corr, was not in attendance, the event’s debut champion, April Larson, did compete. When Larson won in 2016 (at the age of 16), it was her first professional win, which had followed on the heels of five straight victories at the BEF Junior Nationals; three in the 14-and-under Girls Division and two in the 18-and-under Girls Division. She was so excited to have actually won the event, that while she collected the trophy, she forgot to collect the $3,400 check that went with it (later hand-delivered by NAPT President Adrianne Beach). In this year’s event, Larson was moved to the loss side in a tightly-contested, double hill match against Teruko Cuccelelli, and after winning five on the loss side, was eliminated by Canada’s Brittany Bryant.
 
In something of a prescient move, CueSportsLive’s first two streamed matches featured the eventual winner (Fisher) and runner-up (Bontrager). Bontrager played first at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 16 and made something of an opening statement by shutting out Darlene Dantes. She went on to defeat Laura Semko (double hill), Farla Salmanovitch 7-3, and Taylor Hansen (double hill) to draw JPNEWT veteran Jia Li in one of the winners’ side semifinals.
 
Fisher, in the meantime, who stepped up to the streaming table at noon on Friday, downed Rae Noregard 7-1, and then defeated Autumn Duncan 7-3, shut out Krista Walsh, and then survived a double hill fight against last year’s runner-up Eleanor Callado, to draw Helena Thornfeldt in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Fisher and Thornfeldt locked up in something of a predictable double hill fight to determine advancement to the hot seat match. Fisher won it. Bontrager joined her with a 7-3 win over Li. Fisher claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Bontrager and waited on her return.
 
On the loss side, Thornfeldt picked up Bryant, who was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side winning streak that included a 7-5 win over Kaylin Wikoff and the aforementioned double hill win over Larson. Jia Li drew Mary Rakin, who, following her defeat at the hands of Thornfeldt, had defeated Cuculelli 7-2 and survived a double hill fight against Callado.
 
 
Rakin eliminated Li 7-2 and in the quarterfinals faced Thornfeldt, who’d defeated Bryant 7-4. Rakin chalked up a commanding victory, 7-1, over Thornfeldt in those quarterfinals, only to run into an obviously determined Molly Bontrager in the semifinals. Though Rakin would score 5, Bontrager scored the requisite 7 to earn her re-match against Fisher.
 
Last year, Bontrager admitted to being in awe of the woman she faced in the hot seat (Corr), whom she’d been watching play since she (Bontrager) was in her 20s. In much the same situation, Bontrager was going into a match against someone she’d been aware of before she’d begun her still-new pool career. But this time, Bontrager was a little more seasoned than she’d been the year before. She had mentioned in an interview for Billiards Digest that she expected her “newbie attitude” to have worn off by the time she arrived to compete this year. And it did, to a certain extent.
 
“I talked to Allison on and off a couple of times before we played,” she said. “I tried to get to know her a little to break the ice, which makes it a lot easier when you’re playing a match.
 
“She’s a really fun, bubbly person,” she added, “the complete opposite of her demeanor at the table.”
 
While the seasoning that the year provided served her well in this tournament and brought her a step closer to winning the event, she was still somewhat plagued by a lack of practice on 9-ft tables (something she hopes to correct in the year to come) and just a lingering touch of the awe she experienced last year.
 
“I was pleased with the tournament overall,” she said, “and pleased with the results. As far as critiquing myself, I did OK, but not what I’m capable of.”
 
She needed to win two against Fisher in the double elimination final format of the event, but Fisher completed her undefeated run in the opening set. She duplicated her score in the hot seat against Bontrager (7-3) and captured the title. 

1st WPBA Signature Tour Stop of 2018 to be held at Emerald Billiards

$29,000 GUARANTEED PURSE, 64 PLAYER FIELD, & ARAMITH BALLS AS SPONSOR 
 
The Women’s Professional Billiard Association is excited to announce the 1st Signature Tour Stop of 2018. Emerald Billiards, located at 2511 Old W. Spanish Trail; New Iberia, LA, will be hosting the 64-player event with a guaranteed purse of $29,000. A field of 64 elite players will travel from all over the world for a shot at the title & the top prize of $5,500. 
 
WPBA President Dean Roeseler has this to say regarding the event: “The WPBA Board is proud to bring you the second tour stop of the year in New Iberia, LA. This event will be a "signature stop" (50% points) and will be a 3 day event beginning Friday June 22nd at 10am.  Emerald Billiards owner Keith Hulen is dedicated to making this a great event. We have 2 more events on the schedule for this year and will make those announcement when contracts are completed.”
 
EVENT SCHEDULE (times approximate):
Thursday  June 21st: Black Widow Exhibition 7pm-10pm
Friday   June 22nd: Match play from 10am-11pm 
Saturday  June 23rd: Match play from 10am-12am
Sunday   June 24th: Match play from 10am-finals 8:30pm
 
CONFIRMED PLAYERS INCLUDE:
 
#1 Ranked – Line Kjorsvik
“Duchess of Doom” Allison Fisher
“The Assassin” Monica Webb
“Double B” Brittany Bryant
“9mm” Jennifer Barretta
“The Black Widow” Jeanette Lee
“Texas Tornado” Vivian Villarreal
“G-Force” Gerda Hofstatter Gregerson
“Billiard Bombshell” Emily Duddy
“The Grinder” April Larson
“The Sledgehammer” Helena Thornfeldt
“Lone Star” Kim Newsome
“The Terror” Teruko Cucculelli
“The Texas Belle” Belinda Calhoun
“The Honey” Sandy Badger
“The Queen of the Hill” Loree Jon Hasson
“Jumpin” Janet Atwell
Jessica Barnes
 
Exhibition Event with “The Black Widow” Jeanette Lee June 21st 7pm-10pm
“The Black Widow” Jeanette Lee will be doing an exhibition with challenge matches the night before the main event, June 21st from 7pm-10pm. For tickets to the main WPBA event or “The Black Widow” exhibition call: 337.319.0530
 

Corr Wins Rivers Casino Open

Karen Corr and Si Ming Chen

Karen Corr defeated Siming Chen in a heart-pounding, sudden death finale, capping off a four-day competition featuring the top 48-ranked pros of the Women’s Professional Billiard Association. The event ran April 19th-23rd, bringing back the final four players for Sunday’s performance. Brittany Bryant (Canada) and Line Kjorsvik (Norway) also made the cut, tying for third place.
 
The 2017 Rivers Casino Open, held April 19th-23rd, proved very exciting for the spectators in attendance and those who tuned in via the WPBA live stream. With the click of a mouse, fans could tune in to live matches on any one of six tournament tables, which included live scoring updates.
 
The Charity Pro-Am kicked off Wednesday afternoon, with 8 teams, each team paired with a Pro. After three fast and furious rounds of play, it was determined that “Team Brittany Bryant” and “Team Monica Webb” scored the most game wins in each round, and would face each other in a head-to-head final. Team Webb overcame Team Bryant for the win, and a great time was had by all participants! There was also a “Challenge the Pro” session with all proceeds going to charity. Top ranked players took on all comers, offering their fans not only an opportunity to play their favorite pros, but a chance to autograph billiard memorabilia and snap photographs.
 
Thursday morning began the trek to Sunday’s semi-finals. Chen claimed the first semi spot with wins over Kristina Grim, 9-3, Naomi Williams, 9-0, Helena Thornfeldt, 9-3, and Line Kjorsvik, 9-4. The second semi spot was claimed by Karen Corr, with wins over Julie Kelly, 9-6, Jessica Barnes, 9-6, Janet Atwell, 9-6, Monica Webb, 9-7, and Brittany Bryant, 9-3. Challengers were grinding it out on the west side of the chart, hoping to make Sunday’s show. Brittany Bryant bested Kelly Cavanaugh, 9-4, Robin Parker, 9-1, and Jennifer Barretta, 9-7, before losing to Corr. Bryant went on to beat Julie Kelly, 9-6, for an opportunity to face Chen in the first semi-final. The 2017 WPBA Masters Champion and new number one ranked WPBA player, Line Kjorsvik, beat Suzanne Peters, 9-6, Teruko Cucculelli, 9-3, and Sandy Badger, 9-3, but fell to Chen. From the one-loss side, Line went on to eliminate Monica Webb, 9-6, earning herself a shot at Corr in the second semi-final. Chen overcame Bryant both sets, 4-1 and 4-2, to reach the finals. Corr experienced another sudden death match with Line, but this time, she prevailed. Corr won the first set 4-1, and Line answered back, taking the second set, 4-1. Corr responded, winning the sudden death game to face Chen in the finals.
 
Siming played lights out all week, with a stable of opponents who could score no more than four games against her. In the first set, she cruised to a 4-0, but Karen fought back and won the second set, 4-3. Even on sets, players lagged for the break in the sudden death decider. Corr won the lag, broke, and made a ball on the break. Siming never made it back to the table. Corr made a nerve-racking out, flirting with the side pocket while playing position from the 6-ball to the 7-ball. The crowd watched and gasped in horror as the cue ball settled on the rail with perfect shape on the 7-ball. In true, champion form, Corr completed the run, earning herself a brand new title, 2017 Rivers Casino Open Champion!
 
The WPBA would like to thank its sponsors for this event, Rivers Casino and their staff who provided a fabulous venue and outstanding service, Diamond Pool Tables who provided the playing equipment and set-up for the event, Simonis Cloth who provided the cloth for the playing surface, and Aramith Pool Balls who supplied the brand new balls sets. Thanks go out to Dave Jacoby for building the WPBA 40th Anniversary Custom Cue for which raffles tickets were sold during the week, and given away on Sunday.
 
For more information about the Women’s Professional Billiards Association, please visit www.WPBA.com.

Van Boening double dips Josh Roberts to win 2nd Annual Tornado Open

Shane Van Boening and Vivian Villarreal

If someone asked you to come up with 20 male competitors that you'd like to see at a pool tournament, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a list better than the one that comprised the field of players at the Men's Open 10-Ball event of the 2nd Annual Tornado Open (a similar list of female players is, literally, a separate story). Fifteen of the top 25 players on the BCA's Player Ranking list were on hand, as were a host of other notables, like Tommy Kennedy, Skyler Woodward, Justin Bergman, Dennis Hatch, Robb Saez, Brandon Shuff, Mike Davis and Vilmos Foldes, to name just a few.
 
The $85,000-added Tornado Open, hosted by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Hollywood, FL from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, featured nine separate tournaments, three with $25,000-added and a total $100,000 purse. The marquee tournaments were the Men's and Women's 10-Ball Open, and the Scotch Doubles Tournament, featuring a host of dream pairs like the tournament's namesake, Vivian Villarreal and Dennis Orcollo, Shane Van Boening and Brittany Bryant, Mika Immonen and Helena Thornfeldt, Ewa Mataya Laurance and Ernesto Dominguez, Kelly Fisher and Darren Appleton, Karen Corr and Corey Deuel, and Allison Fisher and John Morra. (another literal separate story). 
 
In the end, the 78-entrant Men's Open 10-Ball event came down to three matches between Shane Van Boening and (something of a surprise, although not a big one) Josh Roberts, whose last (reported) major win came against Pagulayan in the finals of The Cheesehead Classic in Wisconsin last October. Roberts took the first of those three in the hot seat match, but Van Boening came back from the semifinals against Warren Kiamco and defeated Roberts twice in the double elimination final to claim the title.
 
As the field narrowed to 12, only five of the BCA's 25 top players remained – (in ranking order) Shane Van Boening (1), Dennis Orcollo (4), Warren Kiamco (6), Mike Dechaine (10) and Alex Pagulayan (17). Three of them (Van Boening, Orcollo and Pagulayan) were still on the winners' side of the 78-entrant bracket. 
 
After defeating Tommy Kennedy, Richard Pugliese, Justin Bergman, and Warren Kiamco, Van Boening squared off in a winners' side semifinal versus The Lion. Josh Roberts, who'd defeated Stony Stone, Drake Niepoetter, Manny Chau and Shaun Wilkie, faced Orcollo in the other one. 
 
Shane dominated 8-1 in his match against Pagulayan, as Roberts downed Orcollo 8-6. Roberts got into the hot seat with an 8-4 win over Van Boening, and waited on his return.
 
Over on the loss side, where Dechaine, Bergman, Kiamco, Davis and Manny Chau continued to lurk, Pagulayan drew Bergman, who'd eliminated Kevin Cheng 8-4 and Antonio Lining 8-3 to reach him. Orcollo picked up Kiamco, who'd been sent to the loss side by Van Boening in a winners' side quarterfinal and was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side streak that would take him as far as a re-match versus Van Boening in the semifinals. Kiamco had eliminated Dechaine 8-5 and Manny Chau 8-3 to get Orcollo.
 
Old adversaries, Pagulayan and Kiamco, advanced to the quarterfinals; Pagulayan eliminating Bergman 8-3 and Kiamco defeating Orcollo, double hill (Kiamco's first of three straight double hill matches). Kiamco went on to defeat Pagulayan, double hill, and then locked up with Van Boening for a third double hill battle that eventually gave Van Boening a second, and necessary third shot against Roberts. 
 
Van Boening and Roberts played 18 games over the two-set final. Van Boening won 16 of them. He gave up nothing in the opening set and though Roberts would chalk up two racks in the second set, Van Boening would close it out to claim the Men's Open 10-Ball title.

European ladies take 2-1 lead in annual Bland Cup tournament in Georgia

Photo courtesy of Kelly Fisher

It was anything but bland. The 3rd Annual Bland Cup tournament, held on Friday, June 24 at the home of Doctor Richie Bland in Carrollton, GA, a few miles west of Atlanta, featured 10 of the top women in the sport; five, playing for the USA (Monica Webb, Ewa Laurance, Vivian Villarreal, Jeanette Lee and Megan Smith) and five, for Europe (Allison Fisher, Kelly Fisher, Jasmin Ouschan, Line Kjoersvik and Helena Thornfeldt). Entering the tournament, the two squads were tied at one Bland Cup victory apiece. In the end, Europe chalked up its second win; this one, by a match score of 21-17.
 
This annual tournament came about as the result of a geographic proximity between Dr. Bland and Monica Webb. Bland, a world-renowned archer, and Medical Director of the Roy Richards, Sr. Cancer Center in Carrollton, is a pool enthusiast and plays in a local APA league, which utilizes facilities owned by Webb (Stix in nearby Villa Rica, GA). Three years ago, they arranged the first Bland Cup Tournament to benefit West Georgia College's Athletic Foundation. Webb transports two tables from her room to add to the single table Bland has in his home. They sell tickets to the single-day event (approximately $100 per ticket, with some variation for the sale of blocks of tickets), which attracts luminaries from the area like Carrollton's mayor, state congressman, and (on this particular occasion), the grandson of the founder of Coca-Cola. In all Webb estimated that there were 200 or so spectators at this year's exhibition event.
 
"It's a very laid back, cocktail party-like arrangement," she said.
 
It's so laid back that no one kept scores of any kind, or remembers who played against whom at any given point. The lone exception is the one score that mattered; the race to 21 points (one point awarded for each individual game victory). While they played primarily one-on-one, there were a few Scotch Doubles games played, as well. It began at around 4:30 p.m. on Friday, and finished at around 8:30 p.m, after which the women played challenge matches until just after midnight.
 
"We try to arrange this when (the women) are all here in the US," she said, "and we use it, basically, to get together once a year."
 
"We enjoy each other's company," she added.

The Elite 8 at Andy Cloth Women’s International Pool Championship

Jennifer Barretta – Photo courtesy of Eli Ceballos CryFoto.com

New York City-  Eight players have survived the first day of single knockout. Six countries are left which are Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden, USA, and Canada.  The pro tournament is the longest women's billiard event of any kind with 6 days of heavy pool action with a round robin event that evolves into a final single elimination chart where players will start out races to 10 in 10-Ball and eventually rise to races to 11,13, and 17 in the finals.  All activities are taking place at Steinway Billiards Cafe and sponsored by Andy Cloth,  J.Pechauer Cues , Viking Cues,  Steinway Billiards.  , Olhausen Balls, Pool & Billiard Magazine , the NAPL & Focused Apparel . Patron sponsors include Dr. Greg Diehl, Tom Gleich, and Dr. Michael Frank.  Media partners include PKE Partners, IB Sports, NYC Grind, Gotham City Technologies, Nona Photography, and Charles Eames Photography.  7 days of live pool will be filmed and streamed by Inside Pool TV.   Pay per view on www.Dragonpromotions.com  for the live marquee matches Andy Cloth Women's International Pool Championship  taking place December 16th-21st at the same venue.

 

The day was full of upsets with alot of damage coming from the qualifier winners. Arizona's Bernie Store had played in 2 qualifiers in California and Washington, losing in both. She received a wild card and has made good use of it with easily qualifying in her group with a huge win over top 3 American pro Jennifer Barretta of NY. "She played amazing against me. She made every tough shot", said Barretta. Bernie then moved on and knocked out Canadian top pro Veronique Menard 10-5 and then faced Hiroko Makiyama of Japan. Ironically, Makiyama defeated Bernie in the Los Angeles qualifier and though Store held an early 4-2 lead in the sweet sixteen, she succumbed to Makiyama 10-6. Still, a very well deserved 9th place at her first major pro event and getting some good cash as well!

 
On that note, Makiyama also was utilizing her free entry from her qualifier win and knocked out #6 seed Li Jia from China 10-7. She faces #1 seed Vivian Villarreal of TX, USA in today's quarter-finals. By far it's the biggest accomplishment of her career so far. 
 
Another qualifier winner Naomi Williams of Canada continued her outstanding play with a hard fought 10-8 win over Tara Williams of Texas. Williams finishes 9th in the money which included her 10-4 dominant win over local pro Erin McManus of NY.
 

In the biggest marquee match of the day, Jennifer Barretta played her best match of the event so far with a huge win over fellow top ranking American Jeanete Lee. Barretta came out with a 2-0 lead, and though Lee tied it at 2-2, Barretta took over from there and ended with a 10-6 victory to move into the elite 8. " I couldn't find my break and kept scratching. You can't do that against Jen. She played good behind my errors and deserves it", said the Black Widow who ends the event at 9th place.

 

Ga Young Kim of Korea barely broke a sweat with 10-1 and 10-3 wins over USA's Samantha Barrett and Japan's Akiko Kitayama. Her roomie Vivian Villareal of Texas dismantled Jeannie Seaver of Florida 10-3 to move to the quarters as well.
 
The most thrilling match of the day came from two players who came the furthest away. New Zealand's Denise Wilkinson trailed Taiwan's Jennifer Chen the entire match and at one point was down 3-8. Chen took a bathroom break, and the young Denise sheepishly smiled and admitted good naturedly to some fans she wasn't playing so well. She got a bit of encouragement back, and before you know it Denise stormed back with 5 straight games to tie the match at 8-8! Chen was visibly rattled and could not take advantage of the open table and hooked herself on the 7-ball. She made a great 2 rail kick but Denise made a nerve racking length of the table 7-ball and ran out to take the 9-8 lead. Chen came back and held steady on a 10-ball combo to tie 9-9. In the final rack both players showed nerves especially when Chen missed a ball in hand! Safety play engaged with Chen the more experience player winning the exchange but missed a very makeable 4-Ball. A ray of hope for Chen when Denise snookered herself on the 5-Ball , but she made a terrific rail first to make it and completed a difficult and pressure pounding runout to the delight of her aunt and uncle who accompanied her on this long trip! Wilkinson plays in the final quarter finals today against Canadian champ Naomi Williams. 
 
See all the brackets can be found and full schedule of play times at www.dragonpromotions.com
 
Action continues on Day 5 Single Elimination with this TV lineup that can be ordered on www.dragonpromotions.com  
The Finals is scheduled for Sunday December 21 at 1:00pm.  See right side buttons.
 
Day 5 TV Schedule Race to 11 Quarter Finals . Watch on www.dragonpromotions.com click 12/20 $15 for entire day 
 
11:00am Vivian Villarreal USA vs Hiroko Makiyama JAPAN
1:15pm Ga Young Kim KOREA vs Helena Thornfeldt SWEDEN 
3:30pm Naomi Williams CANADA vs Denise Wilkinson NEW ZEALAND
 
Semi-Finals Race to 13
6:00pm Villarreal/Makiyama vs Williams/Wilkinson
8:00pm Barretta USA/Bryant CAN vs Ga Young Kim/ Helena Thornfeldt 
 
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